Guj polls: Over 29 pc polling till noon, PM votes at Sabarmati

Ahmedabad: An over 29 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first four hours of polling today for the 93 seats in the second phase in north and central Gujarat regions during which Prime Minister Naredra Modi also cast his ballot.

“A voter turnout of 29.30 per cent has been recorded till 12 pm. While the highest turnout of 36.56 per cent was registered in Mehsana district, the lowest polling of 23.92 per cent took place in Ahmedabad district,” Election Commission officials said.

There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) at some places in Aravalli and Panchmahal districts, they said.

Polling in the 93 seats has been proceeding peacefully, the officials said.

The prime minister cast his ballot after waiting in a queue at a polling booth in a school in Sabarmati constituency of Ahmedabad district.

After casting the vote at Nishan High School, he showed his inked finger to thousands of supporters who had gathered outside the school in Ranip locality of Sabaramati constituency, amid chants of “Modi, Modi”.

He walked a certain distance to greet the people standing on both sides of the road outside the polling booth.

Later, he stood on the foot-board of his car and waved to the crowd.

However, the Congress alleged that Modi’s roadshow was violation of the Model Code of Conduct and accused the EC of bias.

`Despite the morning chill, people could be seen queuing up outside the polling booths even before voting began at 8 am.

Apart from Modi, veteran BJP leader L K Advani, BJP president Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, state Congress president Bharat Solanki and Patidar leader Hardik Patel were among those who cast their ballot.

While the prime minister voted around noon, Shah, Jaitley, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and former chief minister Anandiben Patel exercised their franchise earlier in the day. Advani voted at Shahpur Hindi school.

The prime minister’s mother Hiraba, who is in her 90s, cast her vote at a booth in Gandhinagar.

Patidar quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who joined the Congress and is contesting from Radhanpur, voted in Viramgam.

State Congress president Bharat Solanki, former party chief Siddarth Patel, senior leader Shaktisinh Gohil and former MP Dinsha Patel also exercised their franchise in the high-stake battle for power in the state.

Rebel Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who has floated Jan Vikalp front, voted at Vasania village in Gandhinagar constituency.

Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain told reporters that polling was on in more than 25,000 booths across 14 districts.

“We are live web-casting from 1,700 booths. Security has been properly deployed and the staff reached on time,” he said.

“We have given proper instructions to ensure that EVMs which face problems are changed in time so as to avoid any delays encountered during the first phase of polling,” Swain said.

After an acrimonious campaign, voting for the second and final phase of Gujarat assembly elections is under way today in 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat.

Around 2.22 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose between the two main contenders — the BJP and the Congress.

A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase.

The first phase of voting for the 182-member House, held on December 9, covered 89 seats.

The election is being seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi.

In the 2012 assembly polls, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress bagged 61. The votes will be counted on December 18.

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